WHO ARE YOU - EDUCATOR
Photographs by Christopher M. Gauthier, Evidence and Artifacts
Judith P. Zimmerman, PhD and Elaine Hall
"When you follow a child's lead, you join him or her in the inner world. This willingness to join children where they are becomes a shared experience based on mutual trust and opens the door for the child to join your world. Entering the world of the child with autism requires an open mind. You need to leave behind any expectations about how it should go. This sounds easy but in practice most of us are intent on directing and managing our encounters in all of our relationships. Usually we harbor a preconceived idea, an inner script that dictates how a given exchange should unfold. This is part of our social conditioning and the reason why it may not feel natural at first to truly be led by a child. Being led requires that you resist the impulse to guide or control the child. To work this key effectively, it helps to be genuinely curious about the child's experience. Above all, you will need to allow the child's way of thinking and being no matter what and be open to wherever it may lead. For example, if the child makes flapping motions, don't try to stop him. Go ahead and flap, too. See where this takes you. Odds are you'll be delighted and surprised. "
— Elaine Hall, (excerpt from"Seven Keys to Unlock Autism")
Elaine Hall is founder and president of The Miracle Project. The principles of The Miracle Project are based on Elaine Hall, fondly known as “Coach E” and her 25 years of teachings. They combine the methods her own professional coaching; and her learning’s from Dr. Stanley Greenspan and other well renowned autism experts. More importantly her insight and focus comes from what Elaine has learned from her own son, Neal, adopted as a toddler from a Russian Orphanage and diagnosed with autism at age three.
The New York Times references Elaine Hall, as the “Child Whisperer,” based on this extraordinary and compelling theater arts program that she innovated for children of all abilities. She is the subject of the two time Emmy Award winning HBO documentary Autism: The Musical and has appeared on CNN, CBS News, Oprah Radio and featured in The LA Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Elaine is a cast member in the role of Ms. Quinlan of the movie, Fly Away, produced and directed by Janet Grillo. She is the author of Now I See the Moon: A Mother, a Son, a Miracle (released in 2010) and co-author of Seven Keys to Unlock Autism: Making Miracles in the Classroom. Elaine lives in Santa Monica, California, with the two loves of her life, her teenage son, Neal and her husband Jeff, a Play Therapist. Elaine serves on the US Autism & Asperger Association Advisory Board.
Elaine presented at the USAAA 6th Annual World Conference in Seattle, Washington in 2011. You can download the video or audio presentation (DVD also available) from the The 7 Keys to Unlock Autism presentation as well as the Adjunct Therapies Panel Discussion. Raun K. Kaufman, Dan Copes, PhC, MS, and Alex Doman joined Elaine on the panel.
Judith P. Zimmerman, PhD, MS is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University if Utah and a speech pathologist. Her research interests are epidemiology, autism, communication disorders, and cognitive impairment. Her publications include: Pinborough-Zimmerman J, Bilder D, Satterfield R, Hossain S, McMahon W. (2009). The Impact of Surveillance Method and Record Source on Autism Prevalence: Collaboration with Utah Maternal Child Health Programs. Matern Child Health J. and; Bilder D, Pinborough-Zimmerman J, Miller J, McMahon W. (2009). Prenatal, Perinatal, and Neonatal Factors Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Pediatrics, 123(5), 1293-300.